Do You Travel Alone?

Traveling alone is the ideal situation for an introvert. Enjoying long walks alone at my pace in the warm weather, seeing shorebirds, tropical plants, and eating and sleeping when I feel like it, as well as quietly reading a book for as long as I want, are all soothing to my soul.

When I was a teenager, I thought there was something wrong with me because I was so content in my alone time, but I judged myself by extrovert standards. These are merely two different personality types, and each requires different levels of solitude. Mr. Mickey is the ruling king of extroverts, if you are wondering.

You can see from the side-by-side photos below; I truly needed to get away for a while. I am wearing makeup in both images, and my hair was not styled differently; it was just lifeless and limp before. I am sharing these photos for one purpose only; to prove to you as it did to me that diet, exercise, sleep, and a sense of peace or the lack thereof impact the way we look and feel.

While I was on vacation, I walked for several miles per day, so I lost more than five pounds and slept for eight hours instead of the usual three or four. I had steel cut oats with apples or other fruit and nuts most mornings and a large salad with lobster or other seafood at lunchtime, and I even enjoyed a couple of desserts. I do not usually have an evening meal.

The red top is here from Covered Perfectly. I wore it with jeans and a low-slung belt I purchased from Chico’s a few years ago. I wear these tops almost daily in winter because they are the best first layer under a jacket, vest, or cardigan.

When you shop with Covered Perfectly, you can buy two and get the third top for free. Susan After 60, followers can get a 20% discount on up to two items. Use the discount code FNF20 when you check out at Covered Perfectly. There are several great styles to choose from, and the discount will apply on up to two items; after that, you can take advantage of the buy 2 get 1 FREE special. Only one discount will work per order. The link to the Covered Perfectly site is here.

I have been single for many years, had numerous jobs requiring extensive solo travel, and served in the US Navy for four years, including many solo trips. It is more of an effort for me to travel with others than it is to go alone. Some of the tips that have been helpful to me are listed below.

1. Plan your trip, but not so tightly that you have no flexibility or time to lose yourself in the moment. I researched what was available in the Cape Coral area and decided what I wanted to do well in advance of my trip. The rain fell for most of the day I visited Sanibel Island, so I did not get to do all the things I wanted, but I didn’t let the rain ruin my day. I walked on the beach while I could and looked for shells. I visited a Shell Museum and the very first Chico’s as well as a few other shops. I don’t need anything, so I didn’t make any purchases, but it was fun to see what is new for spring. I planned several options for each area I wanted to visit so that I could be flexible. If it rained or something turned out not to be my cup of tea, I could move on to the next item on my list.

2. Wear comfortable walking shoes. Shoes take up a lot of room in your luggage, so I limit myself to no more than three pairs, and I wear the bulkiest pair while traveling. Take shoes that are different in style and function so that you have three bases covered.

3. Wear inexpensive jewelry that complements everything that you take. If something goes missing or gets damaged, you will not be so upset. One watch, one ring, one bracelet, and one pair of earrings in classic styles and silver colors looked OK with all my clothing.

4. I have never been a night owl, so I explore during the day and then retire early. Be extra vigilant and careful if you decide to go out for a drink or have a late dinner. Trust your instincts. If something seems off, it probably is. Politeness is never more important than safety. Walk with your back straight and your head held high, and exude as much confidence as you can. Looking confused and lost can make you a target.

5. Always have the appropriate charger for your phone, especially if you are using it to navigate. I take a photo of my rental car and tag number with my phone. Never let the fuel get below 1/4 tank in your rental car, and take note of the vehicle’s color and make. Establish a landmark each time you park or start on a long walk.

6. Keep your luggage in your control at all times. Lock the doors to your rental car the moment you close the door. Never park near a van or in a dark corner of the lot. Try to park near a well-lit building or the elevator in a garage. These are all common sense things, but it is easy to let your guard down when enjoying a relaxing vacation.

7. For many women, dining alone is the most dreaded thing. I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard, “Just one?” or “Are you waiting for someone else?” I enjoy my thoughts and watching people coming and going or passing by the window if I am lucky enough to get one of those tables. I don’t look at my phone or read while I am waiting for my food. I embrace the solitude and enjoy not having to talk to anyone. I never rush through my meal because I am alone. I order as many courses as I want but never have more than one glass of wine.

Feel free to add your tips in the comments below. We can all benefit from sharing information about traveling alone.

  1. One of the travelling tips from Susan from une femme d’un certain age is to choose your shoes first. I packed to go away for 5 days recently and decided to try this and it really works. I decided on two pairs and then then chose clothes to go with them. Amazingly easy and I will definitely use this method for future trips.

  2. I too am completely comfortable with being alone . I love people and I’m married with a family but have always felt most content on my own. Since retiring I have done a fair amount of traveling and have noticed quite A few women solo travelers. The concern that I hear from most of them is safety and a lot of them didn’t travel until they discovered group tours. After trying a couple of these myself I can say that it’s a wonderful way to see the world with a safety net around you. There is safety in numbers and these tours, although preplanned and controlled, are a great way to travel. I have used Trafalgar and enjoyed their first class arrangements. They are a perfect solution to wanting to get out and see the world but still being on your own and SAFE.

  3. Have enjoyed this series from your solo vacation. So much of what you write resonates with me, a fellow introvert, Although I describe myself as an introvert in an extroverts body . Usually people are surprised when I say am an introvert . I suspect you get the same reaction. We look like we are very social women who are comfortable in most situations. But, I like you, have the need to go at my own pace! Love that ! I used to travel solo often , but that hasn’t been the case in my 32years of marriage. So, I thought about a solo trip and an idea presented itself that will satisfy several desires! I am going to Morocco on a yoga retreat that will be held at a lovely boutique I’ve dreamed of staying at. I am so excited and nervous to say the least! So, I would just say to anyone woman who needs her own pace, just go! It doesn’t need to be far, even in your own home town will work! Nurture your inner self and just like Susan’s pictures tell, it will be wonderful!

  4. When leaving your car in a strange parking area it would be wise to take a picture of your car and its surroundings with your cell phone.

    1. We take a photo of where we park our car at the airport. It’s sometimes hard to remember where you parked after a week or so away relaxing.

    2. I even take a picture in a local large parking lot of the number / letter of the area I am parked in to help me locate my car. When I’m using a rental car, I take pictures of it and especially the license plate for the same reason. I’m not getting forgetful, but I do forget!

  5. Thank you so much for this post. Being an introvert myself, I’ve had the exact same thoughts that there is something wrong with me. I just took my first solo trip on New Years. I decided that being single was no longer going to keep me from doing things that I want to do. I so enjoy your post and style. Keep up the good work!

  6. I don’t like traveling alone but totally understand why you do. My husband and I are very mellow, whatever-works kind of travelers. I enjoy him so much and I would miss him terribly if he wasn’t traveling with me.

  7. Your blog is my favorite. Uplifting, helpful and authentic. Many of us introverts are mistaken for extraverts because we have learned to do what must be done to successfully function in our jobs and communities. It taxes our energy and personal resources. Blogs seem to fulfill a need for connection without the hubbub of the street and marketplace. Some folks decry the connection as artificial and incomplete. Pretty sure they are extraverts! Be well, dear one.

  8. Loved this post – have been reading your blog for a long time & it never occurred to me you are an introvert. I often take off for an entire day alone & totally enjoy my own company to do as I please. You have inspired me to plan and take a longer trip on my own.

  9. Great tips, thanks so much. I, too, love my family time and my alone time. Audiobooks are wonderful for relaxing, with my knitting in hand and a shady spot to rest after exploring, it feels like heaven on earth.

  10. Thanks Susan for sharing safety tips on travelling solo. I haven’t travelled since becoming a widow but would really like to. Your blog is so inspiring in every way and you are helping women like me to pick ourselves up and persue a new path. Bless you ❤️

  11. Someone once told me that extroverts get recharged by being around people, whereas introverts need to have some alone time to feel refreshed. It would seem that it is important for all of us introverts to make certain that we habitually find some of that alone time.

  12. Those are all good tips, Susan. I travel alone regularly, and for my 60th I went to Belgium and the UK solo for a month. The biggest hassel I encountered was from immigration personnel who seemed to believe that a woman alone had a nefarious agenda! I went for that month (September) with just a carry-on and built my wardrobe around lightweight walking pants and shoes, tissue-thin merino wool tops, vest and scarves.

  13. If travelling by train, however tempting it might be to sit in an empty carriage, always choose the one with a few people already in it. Less chance of attracting unwanted attention!

  14. As a former flight attendant, I have a few safety tips which still serve me well. In the old days before cell phones, I always kept the on board air line magazine with me that shows a world map, as well as detailed airport terminal information like gates, baggage carousels and public transportation areas. As a passenger, I count how many rows I am seated from the closest exit. I carry a miniature high-pitched alarm key chain and keep it close in a pocket. I only carry small cross-body bags to go with my outfits, but I also wear a hanging neck pouch tucked in my top to carry my license, passport and car key. I make a mental note of where I am in any hotel so I could easily navigate to the nearest stairs in the dark (which happened twice when alarms sounded in the night). As a married woman, I only wear a fake wedding ring and leave the real one at home. I always look like I know where I’m going, even if I don’t.

  15. When staying in a hotel (especially alone) you don’t want a room right next to the stairs (an intruder could be there) and use a cheap alarm attached to your door.

  16. I hate that “Just One” question when I dine alone. There has to be something more polite than that, after all many times it is OUR choice to be by ourselves.

  17. I am a bit confused. In two past posts on your daily routine, you have mentioned that you just naturally wake up around 3 or 4 am. And you listed sleeping more above as beneficial (as we all know it is). Will you return to your early hours or sleep more now that you have returned? Does you job require you to only sleep 3 or 4 hours a night?

    1. The pace of my life sometimes robs me of sleep. I often wake up a 3 AM., so I just get up and start working. I have been trying to break myself of this habit and allow more time for relaxing and sleeping.

  18. In large cities, ask the hotel for its business card. If you are directionally challenged as I am, you will then be able to get a taxi back to your hotel even if you do not speak the language and can’t communicate with the taxi driver.

  19. Fascinating description of your style of travel. Everyone is different, I agree. And, sometimes it can be a lot of work and distress to try to please everyone in a group.
    Glad you found a short respite.

  20. First of all, thank you for your service to our country.
    There was a definite difference in the photos! You looked exhausted. Please try to get more sleep now that you have returned. I think you would benefit health wise. Golly I sound like a mom!
    I enjoyed reading about your solo travel.These were good reminders about safety no matter how we travel. I also am sometimes outgoing and enjoy socializing and then I’ll just need a break for a few months and enjoy quieter, more solitary activities. I’m glad you took time for yourself to relax and renew.

  21. Glorious tips! And I too love being able to read Jan Karon books and people watch. I’m still gobsmacked by the difference in your before & after. Uttterly amazing.

  22. Admit that the dining alone thing has never been me! When I’m in that spot I’ve settled for fast food I wouldn’t otherwise eat rather than enjoying a nicer meal. This challenges me to comfortably enjoy a “real meal” next time I’m traveling alone.

  23. My husband and I have a condo in beautiful Galena, IL. (Google it, you would love Galena.) There have been several times I have driven the two hours from Chicago and stayed 3-4 days in the condo alone. I do all the things you’ve described. It is a slice of heaven. I’m so glad you enjoyed your time away. The difference in your pictures really tell the story.

  24. My one addition would be not just to note the color and make of a rental car. Take a photo or two with your phone–especially of the license plate. That should help you to remember what car you have. I also play a little game with the license plate. I make a little sentence of the letters. For example, my car starts with 6UZT: 6 unicorns zap tigers. Hubby’s is 6BDB: 6 beavers drink beer. Doing the same with rental cars helps me to find them in parking lots. And it’s fun!

  25. Wow! It sounds like you wrote this for me. I am definitely an introvert as well. I have friends who seem to like my company, and when I get invited to functions, I don’t always go. I get criticized for being a loner, as if that is a bad thing. I sometimes feel that those people are controlling my life. My former husband was a type A personality, a workaholic and narcissist. I was home alone a lot and it didn’t bother me. I am still at my age of 73 fairly attractive and could easily be in a relationship. I have been told I am wasting my life. Maybe so. Thanks for sharing.

  26. I love to travel by myself. I have been married, 36 years, and sometimes my husband can’t or doesn’t want to go where I am going.
    An example, this past July my nephew was getting married at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. I live in Ohio and have never been to Colorado. I really wanted to see the wedding at the
    Academy Chapel.
    My husband and son could not go….my choice to go alone or not go. I ALWAYS choose to go. I planned a 5 day trip. Keep in mind 2 of the nights I would spend with family attending wedding activities. I flew into Denver, rented a car and drove 90 minutes to Colorado Springs,,,, I spent 2 days traveling the sights,,,,I drove up Pikes Peak, visited Garden of the Gods and visited Mantou Springs and other tourist areas. I do play it safe, no driving after dark, I get hotels right off the expressways and plan ahead. When I am dining alone, a lot of times I will sit at the bar,,making friends with the bartender can be helpful.
    After the wedding I drove to Breckenridge, what a beautiful place. I took the gondola up the mountain had a wonderful meal outside and walked the town. Another wonderful experience.
    Then I drove back to Denver and flew home. If I did not do this by myself I would never experienced a wonderful trip.
    Like Susan, I only take jewelry, that if it gets lost or stolen I won’t be upset. I usually have only one credit card, AAA card license, and limited cash. I always am checking in with my husband and son.
    I can also tell you, I have driven either back or forth from Ohio to Florida, where we have a condo, 5 separate times,,,,by myself. The cars need to get switched out and I do it. The trip is 1000 miles,,,I drive 12 hours one day and 7 the next. I make a hotel reservation where I know I can drive to the first day,,, I make stops along the way, outlet malls small towns all pre planned. I truly do not mind it at all. It is actually peaceful.
    If I did not do these things alone, I would have missed so much….my nephews wedding for one. If you have the chance try it,, you will either love it or not and have learned that. Plus, my husband likes to have a little alone time when I am gone to do things he enjoys,, sports.

    1. I was married many years but am now a widow but still love to travel. I have a friend who likes to travel but not alone so we take trips together to see sites we agree on. But I also take trips alone for all the reasons mentioned above. I have always considered myself an extrovert but once I got used to being alone I’ve realized I do have an introvert side also. Thanks for encouraging women to get out there and enjoy their lives.

  27. If you don’t read or look at your phone while you are wating for your dinner do you just look at people?
    I don’t mine dining by myself and I recently lost my beloved husband but I find that reading while I wait is a good thing for me. Is that not to good?

    1. I am so sorry for your loss. It is okay to read while you wait, but I spend a tremendous amount of time alone in my office, so I enjoy watching how people carry themselves, and of course, what they are wearing, (not so much as they are eating). When people are going out to dinner, they are often celebrating something or otherwise happy to be there. I love watching happy people, so I try to enjoy the moment thoroughly.

  28. I also like to travel alone and hope to do more of it in the future. Excellent tips! I just want to say as a woman over 60 looking for fashion tips, I really appreciate your blog and the fact that your clothes always seem appropriate but stylish. I am very tired of seeing skin tight jeans on women over 25. Just me, but there it is!

  29. I love going to the beach by myself. It’s wonderful to do what you want when you want. You can eat when you want to and sleep as long as you like. I usually go to a place I’m familiar with so I have favorite things I like to do

    1. Florida’s southern Gulf Coast is going to become my familiar place. I like the idea of having a getaway place that is familiar as well as a few new places sprinkled in throughout the year.

  30. I find it fascinating how many of your readers identify as introverts. I’m certainly one. And I love traveling by myself! My partner’s much more of an extrovert, but he’s also eminently self-contained & at ease with himself, so while we travel well together — & often do so — he has no problem entertaining himself when I want to do something solo. One of his passions is old Harleys & 2 or 3 times a year he heads off for a few days with like-minded friends to take in rallys & bike shows. I adore the man, but always luxuriate in the solitude while he’s gone. Over the years, I’ve driven across Canada from coast to coast more than once & criss-crossed most of the US at one time or another. I don’t mind dining alone & don’t even mind the “For one?” question all that much, mainly because I traveled for business a lot back in the day & know many other women who do as well. Unless you hire a companion for the evening, it’s solo or nothing 🙂 I don’t actually think most people pay that much attention any more (I’m also well past the age where I give a hoot what anyone thinks, which helps.)

    I appreciate all the tips you & your other readers have contributed to help make solo travel safer & more enjoyable for all of us. My tip: pay attention to everything that’s going on around you & when you’re walking by yourself in a new place (or even an old one!) walk with confidence, head up, alert but relaxed, even when you’re strolling along taking in the sights. Wear comfy shoes. And if your gut tells you something’s not safe or a situation/person doesn’t feel right, do NOT hesitate to get out of there immediately. My partner’s taught me all sorts of self-defense techniques but he’s the first to tell me that my voice & my feet are my best defense: “scream at the top of your lungs & run like hell”. I’ve never had to do either, but it’s good advice.

  31. I travel by myself all the time, mostly to Europe. I take a group tour if I want to see a lot of different places and go by myself if I am just staying in one city for a few days.

    Since I am by myself, no one ever thinks I am a tourist – they usually think I live there. Therefore, I have never felt unsafe or that someone was trying to take advantage of me. What helps is: (1) dressing like a local – research how people dress in a certain city, what is in style there, and then try to emulate it and no U.S.A. t-shirts or sweatshirts, please; and (2) never walking around looking at a map. I plan where I am going and how I am going to get there before I leave the hotel. If I need to check directions en route, then I will pull out a small paper map I either printed off Google maps or photo copied from a book and quickly check it before putting it back in my pocket.

  32. Susan, You have a kindred spirit. I, too, am an introvert. Although when I moved from my beloved KS to Scottsdale AZ 15 years ago I had to get out there and make new friends. It was difficult and took soo much emotional energy. Now at 67 my priorities have changed again. I’ve been married for 43 years and my husband and I are experiencing health issues associated with aging. I have begun to reflect again on “being social” and forcing myself to get out and go. I’ve given this a great deal of thought. At present I have allowed myself to be a bit of a recluse. I am reevaluating my priorities. My husband no longer wishes to travel, so I have done a bit on my own or with a girlfriend.I still have a few major locations on my bucket list but have not decided how I will travel (solo, small tour group or with a friend). Thank you for sharing your personality type as I initially was concerned about you and Mr. Mickey.

  33. Hi Susan. I, too, am an introvert and work as a nurse in a busy, and noisy hospital setting. I love my weekends, of quiet and often solitude. The older I get, the more precious they are. I travel alone to the beach in my native North Carolina once a year for a week. I can do anything, or nothing, every day. I love shell hunting, enjoying the sunshine, and preparing my evening meal every day. It is where I recharge my batteries, and restore my soul. I am glad you got to do the same!

  34. We are kindred spirits! My daughter and I were tickled to hear there is a name for us. We are the extroverted introverts. Extroverted in situations that call for it, but appreciative of our alone time!

  35. Do you take your luggage on the plane and put it overhead? I am also curious why you sleep only three or four hours a night? I enjoyed your trip and all your traveling tips.

  36. I have only traveled alone for busines, years ago, and when I’m visiting a friend who lives across the country. I’ve always felt too insecure to travel alone just for fun. Now that I’m 68, this has to change! I’m still really healthy, so I know this is the time to relax and enjoy a trip alone. I’m thinking of going someplace I’ve been before just to get my feet wet.
    Your blog is truly inspiring. I feel encouraged to not only dress well for my retired life, but to spread my wings a bit. Thanks so much!

  37. Wow. This was written for me. I was married for 31 years and have been divorced for 10. I am truly just happy alone. I kept thinking that something was wrong with me. I have finally started going out alone, concerts, dinner, movies, etc. it was very hard at first but I am fine with it now. I haven’t really traveled alone yet, but I think that is next. I have a bucket list of places I want to go so I might as well do it! Thank you do much for posting and helping so many of us realize we are just fine how we are!

  38. A few years ago I accompanied my husband on a work trip to Las Vegas. He had team-building events to attend that did not include me so I had quite a bit of time on my own. We stayed at the Paris Hotel on the strip, where the musical “Jersey Boys” was taking place. I not only went to the play by myself, I had dinner at the very posh Eiffel Tower restaurant at the hotel before the performance. I was seated at a window table with my back to the main part of the restaurant, but with a beautiful view of the Bellagio fountains, so I felt sort of private and invisible, which is what I wanted. At both dinner and the play, I didn’t see anyone else who was solo. Believe me, this was a big deal for me, as I am pretty introverted. I enjoyed it, but I still feel it is more fun to experience things like this with another person, but that’s just me.

  39. Thank you, Susan, for addressing this topic and for all the helpful hints. Thanks also to the readers who have added their knowledge as well. One suggestion I have is to carry a small flashlight. There are all types that are lightweight and fit easily in a purse; I even have a surprisingly-bright one on a key chain. I know most of us have a smartphone with a flashlight app, but in the fluster of dealing with a fire evacuation from a hotel in the wee hours of the night (which has happened to me, but was fortunately a false alarm), our minds might not even remember that!

    Your attitude on how to navigate the challenges of our lives at this stage is as valuable as the clothing tips you give us. Thank you!

  40. What a difference! You take such good care of yourself but I think you skimp on sleep. I hope this will help convince you of the importance of getting more rest each night. Your brain needs it!

    Great travel tips. I agree it is better to travel alone than with a companion who is not on your wavelength. My husband is a horrible traveler. He hates driving in strange places, dining out, or spending money on sightseeing. Not fun.

  41. I have been reading your blog and enjoy it very much. When I have a rental car, I take a picture of the license plate & vehicle so I can find it easily.

  42. Thank you so much for your words. I am in my late 50’s and have started enjoying traveling alone once a year to London. It has challenged and empowered me as well as given me a chance to celebrate being on my own doing as I please without worrying about the needs of others. I do not apologize for that either. Many do not agree with my choice but I have one life and I want to live it with no excuses!

  43. What a great post! You do such a wonderful job with this blog, Susan–thank you so much:) I hadn’t thought that it’s unwise to park near a van in general. Good point!

    I’ve traveled alone several times recently, taking a week-long class at Oxford University then going to Paris, going to art conferences, and visiting family. My husband, who is very supportive of my travel, is still working, so I couldn’t go unless I went alone on some of these trips.

    My own little bit of advice for traveling solo is to prepare for being alone. Think how you will react if you are one of the few people alone in groups of people traveling together. It’s easy to feel lonely and sad if you are not confident and have a plan, at least for me. I love to read when I eat alone, but maybe this looks sorry. Planning thoroughly for the trip, being wise and cautious, having a positive attitude, and being flexible all help.

    Again, thank you, Susan and everyone for the great ideas.

  44. Love your blogs! Do you have a comprehensive list of cities or destinations that you have traveled to and think they’re safe for single women? Thank you! Shirley

    1. I googled “safest cities for solo women travelers” to find Cape Coral. I do not have a list yet, but I plan to go to Amelia Island next. I’ll let you know how that goes.

  45. I would add to #5: if you have a smart phone set the “mark my location”” function when you park your car. This has helped me many times. I am solo since becoming a widow. I recently bought a small RV and travel the country for months at a time seeing as many things as possible. As soon as the hostess approaches I tell her table for one. Cuts off any other comment.

  46. Love this post Susan. I grew up in NYC and as a city girl I am very in tune to my surroundings however I do find myself relax and at times not pay attention when I am away on vacation. I usually go with my husband on vacation but like you I do enjoy time alone. Either way I think these tips are very good – one that I will take away would be to put down my phone or book while I am on vacation and dining alone. It’s a great reminder to 1. turn off the electronics 2. be aware of what’s around you at all times. Thank you, stay blessed.

  47. Great video. The only thing I could add is to make sure a relative, good friend, or someone knows where you are and your itinerary. I watch too many Forensic Files but that is probably the best safety tip in case there is a problem.

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